Coffs Harbour to Grafton – 86.5 km (by bike)
We are on the traditional territory of the Bundjalung People
It’s just two of us cycling for the next few days. Wayne is taking a break and will meet up with us in Lismore on Sunday.
We made espressos with our Wacaco and walked our bikes up the steep hill from our motel on the beach below the Pacific Highway. The cycle route we planned to join went off on Bruxner Park Rd. directly across the four lanes of traffic and two turning lanes, but there was no traffic light or safe way to get across the highway. With no breaks in the traffic, we eventually decided to cycle 500m down the highway to the exit for the Pacific Bay Resort to see if we could arrange a taxi to take us across the highway. There, Lois discovered that there was a tunnel under the highway just behind the resort. It was apparently there to connect to a golf course that was never built. Who knew! Through the tunnel, we walked our bikes across a paddock, clambered over a locked gate and we were back on our route, nearly an hour after leaving our motel just a kilometre away!
We then had a continual 40-minute climb high above the highway, giving us great views of the sea and the banana plantations, for which Coffs is well known. At the top, we cycled through the dense and cool old growth Orora State (rain) forest, mesmerized by the enormous trees. Soon, we were out in ranch country which continued the rest of the day. This region was famous in the past for timber, especially red cedar. Near Nana Glen (Lois liked the name!) where we stopped for a welcome coffee, the pastures were interspersed with large netted plantations, likely blueberries. The road was narrow and undulating, but not too busy, allowing us a rare chance to put on our music. We ate our usual cheese, crackers and apples sitting beside the road. A young couple passed us cycling in the opposite direction. They have been cycling from Britain for the past 18 months and were on their way to his home in Melbourne. She was from southern Italy.
Stopping later to get tea at a gas station, we asked if there was a toilet. “Not with water” was the answer. It had not rained for 12 weeks and they were in a drought and waiting for a tanker to deliver water. We got to our motel just before sunset after crossing the bridge (1932) over the Clarence River, on the walking/bike path attached to the bridge next to the railway line underneath the roadway.